Last week, I gave my thoughts and predictions for the first six games of next season. Picking up right where I left off (I had Stanford at 4-2 after six games with losses to USC and Arizona), I’ll start at Week 7.
Week 7: Saturday, Oct. 24 vs. Washington – W 28-7
This season will mark Washington’s second under head coach Chris Petersen. While Petersen’s Boise State teams were known for their ability to put up points quickly on offense, last year’s Washington team was devoid of offense for most of the season. Add that to the fact that Washington lost three stars in the first round of this past year’s NFL draft — Marcus Peters, Danny Shelton and Shaq Thompson (and that’s not including Hau’oli Kikaha, who went early in the second round) — and the Huskies could be in for a long season. Moreover, only one of the three quarterbacks competing for the starting job has ever played in a collegiate game. If you’re not sold on this being a rout yet, a final selling point should be that it’s a home game for Stanford. I have Stanford cruising 28-7.
Week 8: Saturday, Oct. 31 at Washington State – W 27-13
It seems that almost every season, Stanford loses a game in the Pac-12 that no one saw coming. Usually, it’s on the road, too. (Do Washington in 2012 and Utah in 2013 ring a bell?) The good news for Cardinal fans is that I highly, highly doubt it’ll be this game against Washington State. The Cougars have lost standout quarterback Connor Halliday, and they still continue to need major improvements on defense in order to be competitive in the Pac-12. Moreover, the Cougars play Arizona on the road the week before facing Stanford at home, which is sure to be a physically demanding game for the Cougars. I think Stanford beats the Cougars 27-13.
Week 9: Saturday, Nov. 7 at Colorado – W 38-6
The second of a two-game road trip will have the Cardinal in Boulder for the first time in a few seasons. The last time the Cardinal visited the Buffaloes, we saw the emergence of a young quarterback named Kevin Hogan. Hogan’s stat line in his first game with major playing time that season was 18-for-23 for 184 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 48 yards on the ground. I expect the stats to be even better for Hogan in his final season at Stanford when he takes on the Buffaloes. While Colorado returns quarterback Sefo Liufau and big-play wide receiver Nelson Spruce, Stanford has too much talent and depth to lose against this Colorado team. Stanford wins big, 38-6.
Week 10: Saturday, Nov. 14 vs. Oregon – L 31-17
The Stanford vs. Oregon game is always one that fans on each team circle on their calendars early in the season. After all, the game for the past several years (minus last year) has decided the Pac-12 North, and I expect it to be that way again this season.
While Oregon lost the best player in college football last season, Marcus Mariota, to the NFL draft, the Ducks always seem to be able to put up points on offense. It’ll be no different this year, especially with the addition of Eastern Washington transfer quarterback Vernon Adams. Adams was absolutely phenomenal for the Eagles last season and has a solid chance of winning the starting job from day one even though he couldn’t participate in spring practice.
This week, we also heard that former Notre Dame lineman Matt Hegarty is transferring to Oregon and will be immediately eligible (as he’s a graduate transfer), which bolsters the Oregon line and should provide lanes for running back sensation Royce Freeman. This year’s Ducks team is just as good as the teams from the previous years, and unfortunately for Stanford, I see the Ducks offense cruising similarly to how it did last year. I have Oregon 31-17.
Week 11: Saturday, Nov. 21 vs. California – W 34-10
Rivalry games are always unpredictable, or so they say. It seems that for the past several years, the only thing unpredictable about Stanford vs. Cal games is how soon into the blowout fans will start leaving. To be fair, Cal is returning a quarterback in Jared Goff that has continued to improve, along with running back Daniel Lasco and wide receiver Bryce Treggs. Unfortunately for the Bears, their defense still cannot stop any offense. The game should have added meaning for graduate transfer Brennan Scarlett, who recently announced that he will be transferring from Cal to Stanford this season. I’ll make an extra prediction in addition to the score and call that Scarlett has at least one sack in the game. Stanford wins 34-10.
Week 12: Saturday, Nov. 28 vs. Notre Dame – W 21-17
After holding Stanford to only 14 points last season in South Bend, the Notre Dame defense proceeded to fall apart down the stretch of last season. In November, the defense gave up 44.5 per game on average, which, to put it mildly, is not good.
I don’t see the defense faring too much better this season — although it’s hard to get much worse — but the offense might be a different story. Malik Zaire established himself as the quarterback going forward after beating LSU in a bowl game last season, and that was further cemented with Everett Golson transferring to Florida State a few weeks ago. Tarean Folston is a good running back and Notre Dame seems to always have a number of quality receivers.
If the game is a high-scoring shootout, I think Notre Dame has a real chance to pull off the road win, but I think Stanford’s defense is well-suited to stop Brian Kelly’s offense (as it has for the past few seasons). I like Stanford in a close game, 21-17.
At 9-3, I think Stanford misses out on playing for the Pac-12 Championship, as Oregon will win the Pac-12 North. I think 9-3 gives Stanford either the Holiday Bowl or Foster Farms Bowl, which are both played against the Big Ten. But then again, if we already knew who would win the national championship, why would we bother watching? Stanford could surprise us all and run the table, and yours truly is certainly hoping for a magical season in 2015.
In his predictions, Shawn Tuteja neglected to predict how Stanford will do next season against its toughest opponent — the dreaded bye week. Tell Shawn that it’s never okay to sleep on the bye and show him the tremendous upset potential by emailing him at sstuteja ‘at’ stanford.edu.